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Suddenly the Democrats are missing Trump

The student has become the master: Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. Mark Wallheiser/Getty

Donald Trump has long claimed credit for “creating” Ron DeSantis, the “cunning, ruthless, whip-smart” Florida governor, says Piers Morgan in the New York Post. But now, the two are “heading for a deadly showdown”. Last week, DeSantis staged a publicity stunt: shipping 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard – a holiday hotspot for wealthy white liberals – so northern Democrats get a taste of the surging illegal immigration in southern states. After the avalanche of media coverage that followed, Republicans are warming up to him as a “better-focused, more competent” version of Trump. He offers the same Make America Great Again ideology “without any of the crazier baggage”. Not only that, but he’s just 44 years old: 32 years younger than Trump and 35 younger than Joe Biden.

For Democrats, DeSantis is their “worst nightmare as an opponent”. That’s why the “media heat” that Trump normally attracts has been suddenly redirected his way. This week, a columnist at The New York Times – the same newspaper that portrayed the former president as “the most chilling threat to democracy since Adolf Hitler” – described Trump as “funny” with “natural charisma” compared to the “meaner” DeSantis, a man lacking “the soft edges and eccentricity of the actual Donald Trump”. As one Fox anchor put it, it’s only when you’re no longer a threat that “the Dems compliment you”. Trump will be “incensed” at all the attention his former protégé is receiving, but perhaps it’s time to concede he can’t challenge DeSantis for the presidential nomination. “True leadership, after all, is about legacy.”